* You are viewing the archive for the ‘Employees’ Category. View the rest of the archives.

Interview with Rob Siefker of Zappos – Part 3 of 4

This is the third of a four part interview with Rob Siefker, the Director of the Customer Loyatly Team at Zappos. In this part of the interview, Rob talks more about the service metrics that Zappos tracks, how the company empowers its Customer Loyalty Team Members (and has avoided bureaucracy), how escalations to managers work at the company, how the Zappos compensates its employees, and the extensive continuing education programs employees have access to at Zappos and how they work.

You can read part one of the interview here and part two here. You can also jump ahead and read part four here. To read this part, click “read more.”

Continue Reading

Interview with Rob Siefker of Zappos – Part 2 of 4

This is the second of a four part interview with Rob Siefker, the Director of the Customer Loyatly Team at Zappos. In this part of the interview, Rob discusses how Zappos motivates members of their customer loyalty team, what programs they have in place to recognize good service, and what service metrics the company tracks and how.

You can read part one of the interview here. You can also jump ahead and read part three and/or four. To read this part, click “read more.”

Continue Reading

The silent exit of poor customer service

Kelli's editMost customers who feel they have been the recipients of poor customer service will never vocalize their feelings to a particular organization. According to First Financial Training Services and the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, only four percent of dissatisfied customers ever complain making the other 96 percent essentially ripe for the picking when another company offering similar services or products appear in the horizon.

Typically an unhappy customer who perceives that attitude of indifference will tell eight to ten of their friends, coworkers or family members about their bad experiences, and one in five people will tell 20 others. As the story spreads, it can become similar to the kitten over-breeding-epidemic – way out of control.

So what are some of the more obvious signs of poor customer service that silently drive customers away?  Here are a few observations:

  • There are no employees at the store’s front service desk.
  • Floor personnel are talking on their cell phones.
  • Managers ignore customers.
  • No direct eye-contact with personnel and customers.
  • Employees who are not familiar with the entire store – only one department.
  • Rude employees.
  • The attitude of indifference as perceived by a customer.

All is not lost however, since seven out of ten customers will continue to do business with an organization if their complaint is resolved, and 95 percent of consumers will be even happier if the problem is resolved immediately. While statistics also show that the average business spends six times more money to attract new customers and clients, loyalty from the current customers is also very important. Business comes from all over, and a growing client base is what grows a business.

As business owners do we necessarily recognize the signs of bad customer service? The answers actually depend on the owner or managers who first must demonstrate their interest in providing the best experience for every customer or client who interacts with their organizations. The CEO and upper management have to like what they do, because that attitude directly reflects on every employee and customer alike.

For some specific suggestions as to how to keep customers from walking out the door never to return – develop a rapport, call them by name, show that you are genuinely interested in their lives and how your organization can make a positive difference. And when a problem does occur, don’t read into it as the day the world fell apart. Instead step back for a moment and consider the viewpoint of the unhappy customer. Be reliable and credible, apologize when mess-ups occur, and resolve the conflict.

Exceptional customer service where representatives step way out of the box as they do in such luxury organizations as the Ritz Carlton or Mercedes Benz invite all businesses to take a few hints. Of course these organizations have huge budgets to spread the word, however companies like Zappos, Nordstrom, and even Amazon worked their way up the customer satisfaction ladder by careful training, attitude and that all inspiring will to please.

As someone with an infinite knowledge of pleasing customers and resolving conflicts the moment a problem is brought to his attention, his advice still rings in my mind – “you always want to dance with your clients.”

photo credit: Debs (ò‿ó)♪

You only have one chance for a great first impression

IMG_5028Making a really poor first impression with your customer is almost a guarantee that you can wave goodbye to business in the future, and sadly there are days when the best laid plans of employees and their well rehearsed skills go awry. The question is can a business deal with it so they don’t lose a customer, and how does a business make amends? Here is how one company handled their blunder.

Last week my Mercedes had been making a strange noise – the kind of noise one just can’t turn the radio up louder to ignore; I thought it might be serious. I arrived at the dealership in North Palm Beach and was promptly greeted and led into a waiting area. I waited and waited – lots of  employees going back and forth and in and out, but no one stopped to speak with me. When I saw the original “meet and greet” employee I told him no one had helped me yet, and I was becoming impatient. He told me that everyone was very busy and to continue to wait.

And now in the century of the I phone and with no patience for poor customer service, I called another  Mercedes dealership and asked if I could bring my car in for a diagnosis of its problem. The receptionist Stacy asked me where I lived and told me I could bring my car to them, but the dealership in my area was much closer. I told her that was where I was calling from, and how I had been told to wait in a wide-open lobby and no one had yet to even wave to me. I told her my name, and she promised to get back to me in a few minutes.

And that is exactly what Stacy did. Not only did she remember my name, she called me right back and said a representative would be with me shortly. After that, the service was exemplary – and not only was my car repaired, I was given a Mercedes loaner, and from that moment on my customer service needs were handled as if my father owned the company.

Customers remember good service and good products, but it’s that first point of contact where someone is welcoming and friendly and promptly attends to their clients that define a reputation and future business. That first impression doesn’t just happen by luck or chance, so preparing all the participants with their own customized training skills may require more than letting one of the other employees show someone “around.” In order for employees to be on the top of their job, managers need to provide training courses with “how to” manage different situations, read body language, step out of their “box” to take extra steps to help someone, and learn how to effectively manage unhappy people and difficult situations.

The next day when I returned the loaner car and was ready to pick up my own car, the welcoming staff could not have been more helpful, friendly and engaging. I forgive you Mercedes-Benz – you handled the problem well.

photo credit: CLF

Auto insurance companies working on their customer service experiences

Unfast Cars Moving Fastly, Subaru On SpeedAutomobile insurance companies are going all out to please their customers. Once upon a time we just called the insurance agent our parents dealt with for twenty years and gave them the information about our car and the amount of liability, collision and uninsured motorist protection we needed and sent in the premium. We didn’t shop around, and who would have thought that an automobile insurance company would actually cater to a customer?

Now less than ten years later all of this has changed. Insurance companies flood television commercials with proposals for the best services one can imagine. Amid the promises of the lowest cost policies, companies now have new ways to win you over. Progressive Insurance Companies promise you customized quotes and immediate personal service. Who doesn’t identify with Flo, the loveable and helpful cashier with the tricked-out name tag? Who doesn’t recognize the reptilian mascot with the Cockney accent for GEICO?

Still when it comes to customer service and brand recognition, Allstate might be onto a better way. No fancy gimmicks in their advertisements, but instead the company has been swaying customers with such programs as accident forgiveness, reward programs, and safe driving bonuses. Last week Allstate announced their new Claim Satisfaction Guarantee which promises its customers to be satisfied with their auto claim service or they will get a credit to their auto policy. This new feature which makes eligible customers who are not happy for any reason with the service they receive a finite opportunity to receive an actual credit on their auto policy.

Allstate’s new program actually lays a pretty big responsibility on the company because the satisfaction promises stretch from the agent, to the adjusters, to the claims representatives and to the very people who are entrusted to repair a client’s car Allstate, however states the repairs must be done through an Allstate Good Hands Repair Network or Sterling Auto Body Center. Still the network shows the company’s trust in the people they deal with thus helping to build trust with their customers.

And when once upon a time we could only call our insurance agent during business hours, Allstate as well as other insurance companies now have 24/7 service in case of a problem. Ten years ago, clients had to wait until Monday morning to report a collision that happened on Friday night – now there’s immediate help and advice.

Allstate tested their new program last year in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Georgia and hopes to extend opportunities to even more areas in the near future.

photo credit: David E. Starr

Amazon.com still a leader in customer service

IMG_4777Amazon.com’s newest customer service facility opened on Friday with a fanfare of speeches and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new 70,000 square-foot center in Kinetic Park, West Virginia was described as a “perfect fit” by Vice President of Amazon customer service Tom Weiland. The new site will provide the company with more flexibility to train workers and take care of customers.

There are approximately 500 employees, and Amazon is planning through a job fair to immediately hire 200 more innovators and problem solvers. The company states they look for candidates that know what needs to be done and then acts upon those tasks. Products sold and supported at the Huntington facility will be Amazon’s retail Kindle, Amazon Instant Video, and Amazon Prime. Service representatives will be handling phones, emails, and chat contacts.

Customer service representatives are recognized as valuable partners in the company’s success also. Creature comforts such as a quiet reading areas, game room with television, pool tables and ping-pong tables are available for some downtime.

So what makes Amazon so successful? After all the company is rated as one of the favorite online businesses customers want to use. The answers are obvious – Amazon makes everything easy. The company offers low prices, vast selections, fast delivery, and convenient buying and returning. The focus is on the customer experience and having everything the customer wants.

Amazon’s innovative ideas have resulted in price guarantees, alerts to rising and dropping prices, and through this builds consumer confidence – enough to be labeled as one of the “most reputable” businesses. Their product reviews have surpassed most other sites, and more people continue to use Amazon as a research tool. Even the company’s technological advances such as the Kindle e-reader, the Android app store and movie streaming service has set them apart from their competition.

In my own experience, my son just purchased a Kindle for my birthday recently, and not more than two-weeks later, the Kindle Fire was announced. I had already thrown most of the packaging away, but wrapped up the original one, sent it back, no questions asked and I am eagerly awaiting the new one when it is released on November 15.

When once asked what founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos thought about on his own time, he responded he was obsessed with customers and felt driven to become the most customer-centric company on the planet.  It looks as if that might be happening.

photo credit: Chrysaora

Take lessons from Disneyland and learn how customers are treated

Corvette Z06Mark Reuss, President of General Motors North American operations has a three-fold plan to increase Chevrolet sales in California. As is the progressive California mindset, Chevrolet production will have to develop smaller and more fuel-efficient models to compete with the imports, make Chevrolet dealerships more physically attractive, and amp up customer service.

General Motors has lagged behind Toyota, Honda, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Volkswagen for years. Statistically California Chevrolet dealerships are only capturing three percent of the market share for passenger cars. Time for a change? It seems so since Disneyland in Anaheim will be the setting for some intense customer service training with the purpose aimed at making a car salesman into Prince Charming.

Salesmen won’t be riding pirate ships and teacups, but will be concentrating on Disney’s attention paid to detail. Not that there is anything especially wrong with tattoos and body piercings, I wasn’t surprised however to hear a woman tell me about her disappointing first impression with a car salesman who had facial and lip piercings. The customer couldn’t concentrate because she was so distracted by what looked so very painful and offensive. Would the Little Mermaid ever sport a lip piercing?

Sales people won’t be smoking in public view while on the job. Disneyland says that would be equivalent to Cinderella smoking a cigarette. Perhaps the biggest lesson to be learned from Disneyland is that customers are always to be appreciated, and it’s the small things that count which customers always remember. Can you ever remember seeing loose garbage on the sidewalk of any Disney kingdom? Can you ever remember any Disney character ever looking disheveled or having the slightest rip in her costume? The car dealerships can find small but effective ways to pay attention to details also. Service departments can show how their customers are appreciated with a free car wash with every service or a bottle of cold water in the beverage holder when a customer comes to pick up their car.

A big part of the total experience of purchasing a car is about the dealership – more than what the salesman has to say. Once GM brings forth a product that appeals to California car buyers – fuel and environmentally efficient, the physical appearance of the dealerships are next. GM promises to pour in $60 to $100 million into over 100 franchises – primarily in Los Angeles to make a uniform entrance, redesign others and even move dealerships to better areas – all with the intention of creating a brand known for quality and excellent customer service.

Time will tell if Disneyland comes to “Chevroletland”, but it definitely can’t hurt.

photo credit: Hertj94

I’m telling my friends about the bad customer service

Tony HsiehHow many of us really take the time to sit down and Google all of the information we need to make a formal complaint when a business treats us poorly? At the time and day this poor service happens we are angry, and we vow the moment we get home we will get a letter out to the CEO of the company and reiterate the miserable events of either our last purchase or service.

As reality settles in, and the other demands of life weigh more importantly upon our daily lives, often the letter doesn’t get written. Good thing for social media and Twitter however, but will that solve all of the problems we can’t quite condense to 140 characters or less? Sometimes we just need a letter with the chronology of events to point out every wrong either imagined or real done to us while spending our hard-earned dollars.

So who do we tell about bad service? Most of us will tell our friends. We go out for a Saturday night dinner with our neighbors, our relatives or our co-workers and the conversation most likely centers around that last unhappy experience at the airport, the restaurant, or the mall. Sometimes we just observe another shopper losing her patience, and we’re not sure if we should stay for the “show” or join in if the complaint is valid. Still imagine all the damage this entire bad customer service experience has had on the business.

How many times have any of us just left our would-be purchases on the ledge or on the counter because service was so slow? That then becomes a direct hit in the company’s wallet, but what can we do about some of this to make service better and keep customers coming back?

Some organizations seem to have misplaced the concept of customers first. Instead company policy intended to streamline and reduce costs wind up costing an organization more money. For example – a consumer’s cable television isn’t working correctly and the customer is told to call back later to see if the problem has been resolved. Unfortunately the  customer has then to repeat the entire telephone maze process again – thus releasing that exhaled breath of pure frustration and obscene muttered curse words.

What happens to customer service when the right candidates aren’t hired for the job? Customer service requires a certain type of person – one that can effectively demonstrate their patience and knowledge of customer preferences. One size does not fit all in the people pleasing category, but all too often customer service jobs start out as entry-level positions with entry-level salaries. In the nearby mall, there is a young adult clothing store which hires its sales personnel by their physical attractiveness – agreed the young women and men are extremely good-looking, but it hasn’t been any boom to their customer service skills. Many of the representatives have had no customer service training and appear to be incapable of making decisions when required they think “out of the box.”

And what every business needs to succeed and rise above the “bad” customer service is to lead by example. I just toured Zappos last week, and along with all of the camaraderie and team spirit, one aspect of the business plan particularly captured my attention. The CEO, Tony Hsieh’s desk and “cubicle” is out in the arena with all of the associates. There’s no special sign – no fancy glass walls – just a dangling bunch of green vines hanging through the aisle way as if out of a scene from a cheesy island adventure. The point – however – Hsieh is involved with the entire organization and has made customer service a priority – not by telling his employees, but being right there in the middle of the action. That my friends is what makes great customer service.

photo credit: jeffkward

« Previous Page  Next Page »